by Jennifer Bateman, Prevention Specialist
In the United States, more than 4 children die from child abuse and neglect on a daily basis. Over 70% of these children are below the age of 3. Boys (48.5%) and girls (51.2%) become victims at nearly the same rate. 2.9 million cases of child abuse are reported every year in the United States.
Child abuse of all kinds is an epidemic here and around the world. The long-term affects of abuse on children are well known. Abused children are more likely to end up arrested as juveniles and adults, more likely to commit violence crime and more likely to end up in prison and develop psychological disorders.
April is Child Abuse Awareness Month. You do not have to work for or be a part of a childcare agency such as a school or daycare to help observe report and advocate for the children in your care and in your community. Any concerned person can report suspicions of child abuse and neglect.
There are certain signs and symptoms to look for when a person is concerned about child abuse. The most obvious is an act of bodily harm that you are able to witness such as a parent beating a child in a public place or screaming at their child in a retail store. Other signs are more subtle and require you to be “clued in” to the situation that you and the child you are advocating for find yourself.
- Has unexplained burns, bites, bruises, broken bones, or black eyes.
- Shrinks at the approach of adults.
- Is frequently absent from school or other social events.
- Lacks sufficient clothing for the weather.
- States that there is no one at home to provide care.
- Reports nightmares or bedwetting.
- Is secretive and isolated.
- Shows extremes in behavior, such as overly compliant or demanding behavior, extreme passivity, or aggression.
The old adage is true now more than ever, “It takes a village to raise a child.” It will take communities, coming together in unity and concern to help put an end to this epidemic. We must watch out not only for our own children but also for the children that will one day become the future leaders and decision makers of our communities. Let’s give them the best chances and start in life possible. If you see something, please….REPORT SOMETHING!